The tower bells ring as another day begins in a beautiful beach town. College students make their way to class on their cruiser bikes as the typical warm weather greets everyone with a good dose of sunlight. This is not just any place—this campus is considered the envy of many.
The University of Calfornia, Santa Barbara campus and its surrounding are considered to be one of the most gorgeous university settings in the United States for a good reason. Most of us students are getting a lifetime’s worth of education at a prestigious university, while having the time of our lives partying, but also maturing and learning the rules of adulthood in a place that seems quite different from others. Personally, I have heard this discussion around campus a number of times, while one central question always takes a central role—is there a UCSB bubble?
There are many factors that could lead one to think that there is a disconnect between the life of UCSB students and reality’s somber side. The campus’ location right on the beautiful coastal line looks like it has been taken out of movie.
“Sometimes, when you happen to go back home, you realize that other places are not like Isla Vista, where everyone’s young and fit, and you’re right next to the beach,” said Sivan Ron, a third-year communication major.
Our university is also quite notorious for having a very vibrant social scene, and generations of alumni are ready to attest to that. With or without a “bubble,” many students throughout the years have had the time of their lives here and it is natural that they remember the experience in brighter hues. Unfortunately, there is not a way to measure such a thing as a “bubble.” Talking to students around campus, their response to that question would probably depend on the outcomes of their latest tests or weekend adventures.
One aspect of the life in Isla Vista that definitely drives away the feeling of a rosy reality here in IV is the fact that the crime rate has been notoriously high in past years. According to national rankings of college campus crime rates, UCSB is safely distanced away from the top half of the table. The Clery Act, which bounds public universities to collect data of on-campus crime rates, is the main source of information that goes into the university’s crime rate calculation. This creates a problem, since crimes that happen outside of the campus’ boundaries are not calculated into the measurement—a loophole that leaves most crimes in Isla Vista out of the equation. Those of us who receive alerts from the local authorities know that incidents are common enough without having to look at the dry statistics. According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, close to 20 percent of major crimes in the county, such as theft and burglary and property crimes, take place here in Isla Vista. Looking at these statistics, despite the beautiful scenery and vibrant social life that surrounds this community, it is difficult to say that UCSB students are sheltered from the misfortunes of reality.